Climate change is real, and is happening. The EU is a world leader in taking measures to keep global temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius (the "tipping point" at which scientists agree irreversible effects will follow): the successful climate agreement in Paris last year will ensure that all countries play their part with their own national targets for emissions reductions, with the aim of a net zero carbon world after 2050.
The EU has a triple target for 2020, known as the "20-20-20" targets: 20% reduction of carbon emissions compared to 1990, 20% of energy to come from renewables, and a 20% increase in energy efficiency. Scotland is playing its part in helping meet these targets: in 2013, Scottish carbon emissions had fallen by 34.3% compared to 1990; 11.6% of Scotland's energy came from renewable sources in 2012, with over 44% of our electricity coming from renewables; and energy consumption was down by 12%. Discussion has already started on targets for 2030, with the EU setting a goal of a 40% reduction in carbon emissions, a 27% share for renewables in energy, and an energy efficiency target of 27% compared to 1990. By giving long term certainty to industry across the entire EU single market we can help promote the transition to a low carbon society and spur investment in low carbon technologies and renewables, a huge growth area for Scotland's economy.
Scotland has led the EU in setting ambitious environmental targets. Scotland reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 29.9% from 1990 to 2012 against an EU average of 18.5%.
The EU's climate change policy is good for Scotland. We have much to gain from tackling climate change, not only in the environmental sense but also economically. We have an unparalleled resource in renewable energy: 25% of Europe's tidal and offshore wind potential is in Scottish waters, as well as 10% of Europe's wave power capacity. Over 11,000 jobs in Scotland have already been created in the renewables industry.
EU funding is already ploughing millions of Euros into Scottish energy projects: for example, €20 million for the world's largest tidal stream energy array in the Sound of Islay, and €40 million to help build an electricity interconnector between Scotland and Norway. A North Sea subsea electricity supergrid, to harness the renewable power of the North Sea, is finally moving forward because the European regulatory body of electricity transmission has created a framework for that co-operation. Upcoming work in Brussels on creating a genuine Energy Union, promoting indigenous European energy sources and boosting interconnections between member states, can only help Scotland's ambition to be the EU's green powerhouse.
Did You Know?
25% of all of Europe's tidal and offshore wind potential is in Scottish waters.
Climate change is a problem which can only be solved through continental and trans-national cooperation. The EU is the European forum by which sovereign countries can come together to find common solutions and ensure a level playing field. Scotland is and should remain at the heart of these efforts.
 Figures from June 2014. Taken from 'Scotland’s Agenda for EU Reform', The Scottish Government, October 2014.